Anointing of the Sick – Q&A


Rev. Anthony Giamello
Pastor, St. John the Apostle/St. Bernadette

This week I would like to talk about the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and answer some questions that frequently arise related to it.  

Q: When are you eligible to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick? 

A: The Anointing of the Sick is for available to anyone who is in in danger of death from sickness or old age. This could be someone who is on the brink of death, but it can also include someone who is undergoing a potentially hazardous medical treatment, such as a life-threatening surgery. This Sacrament can be received multiple times; a person can be anointed again if their illness worsens or if they relapse into illness after previously regaining health. 

Q: What is the purpose of the Anointing of the Sick? 

A: In the Letter of James, chapter 5:14-15 it says, “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.”  

The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is a healing sacrament. If a sick person was not able to obtain absolution through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (if they can’t speak for example) then their sins are forgiven through the anointing. The sick person is alsostrengthened  spiritually and given the graces to endure the suffering that often accompanies illness. In this way, the sick person is prepared for their possible death and for their passing over into eternal life. Additionally, if it is God’s will, the Anointing of the Sick can physically heal the sick person, restoring them to health. 

Q: Didn’t the Anointing of the Sick used to be called the Last Rites? 

A: Yes, what we call the Anointing of the Sick used to be called Last Rites. This is because previously, Catholics typically received the anointing only on the brink of death. Since Catholics can receive an anointing anytime they are threatened by a serious illness, the name was changed to more accurately reflect the nature of the Sacrament. 


This week on Tuesday, November 26th, we will have a Healing Mass. Please join us at St. John’s at 9:00am to receive this Sacrament. Those who should be anointed are those with a chronic illness, those facing an upcoming surgery or those of advanced age.  If you would like to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, join us this Tuesday. If you don’t need to be anointed, you can still join us to pray for our brothers and sisters who are in need of this Sacrament. 


Don’t forget that every Monday there is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament following the daily Mass until 6:45pm. Come and spend some quiet time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.